Is Student Anxiety Affecting our Education? 3 Ways to Cope
Updated: Apr 24
Speaking as a college student with anxiety, I can tell you that student fear of failure is at an all-time high for me every time I set foot on campus. (I know what you're thinking, I'm too old to be a student. Well, that's just not true, because you're never too old to get an education!) But I deal with copious amounts of anxiety in my day-to-day life, and when I pile homework assignments and class attendance on top of that, sometimes I feel too overwhelmed to think.
I take comfort in the fact that I am definitely not alone when it comes to student anxiety. But the question that comes to my mind is how is this anxiety in students affecting our overall education. Is there a way that we can set ourselves up for success instead of talking ourselves into failure? In this article I'm going to explore some reasons this is becoming such an epidemic in our nation and list 5 proven strategies that can help us calm our anxious minds when it comes to student fear of failure and anxiety in students.
What Do We Know About Student Anxiety?
Well for one, we know it's very common. According to the American College Health Association Fall 2018 National College Health Assessment, 63% of college students in the US felt overwhelming anxiety in the past year. In the same survey, 23% reported being diagnosed or treated by a mental health professional for anxiety in the past year. We know that a vast majority of college students are under tremendous pressure, and that can lead to a lot of other students with anxiety, just like you. So take heart that you are definitely not alone when it comes to your fear of failure.
It's caused by many factors. Sleep disruption and deprivation are among the two highest sources of student anxiety. This makes sense if you're pulling all-night study sessions and guzzling more caffeine than the entire US. Marine corps while trying to balance your studying and other responsibilities. Loneliness is also a major player since most college students are living away from home for the first time and don't have their tried and true support squad with them. Coupled with intense academic expectations, it's enough to drive anyone bonkers!
It's on the rise. Although it's hard to pinpoint the exact reasons for students with anxiety, it is clear that it's trending up in recent years. (Definitely not a trend you'd like to be on the receiving end of). College students around the globe appear to have higher levels of anxiety than ever before and A recent study in Sweden showed that anxiety levels have increased in recent years, especially among young adults. It's not entirely clear what is causing this upswing, but research does seem to show a very strong connection between time spent on social media and electronic devices and reduced well-being among young adults.
So whether you're a student yourself, or a parent to one, here's a handful of ideas you can use to help reduce the anxious thoughts and enjoy your overall college experience more fully. This is by no means a be-all, end-all list of ways to cope, but rather a collection of proven strategies to assist in your overall well-being. If you feel that you are still having difficulty, I encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional and have a conversation about what's going on.
Dive in, Don't Avoid Anxiety Inducing Situations - Look, it's so much easier to sit on the sidelines and avoid situations and experiences that stress us out. Most of the time, it's just making the depression and anxiety worse because you couple it with guilt for not attending, and you're stuck in a rabbit hole of self-deprecation. So don't skip class, make sure to go and participate. If you're struggling in that class, try reaching out to the professor, or one of your classmates to help bring you up to speed. Look for tutoring centers on campus that can help you get over the academic hurdle of your algebra class. (EW!) If you are still feeling overwhelmed, look into the possibility of dropping a class or two to take some of the pressure off yourself. I know it's hard to get over the anxiety and dive in, but I promise the effort will be worth it.
Practice Some Self-Care - I know this is easier said than done. And I know that when we're in the thick of things it's hard to even remember who we are beyond the burrito and coke we had for lunch. And self-care can look different for everyone. Self-care for me is copious amounts of time by myself in a quiet room to just veg out. While for my sister self-care looks like a bubble bath and painting her nails. (Both things I abhor!) Whatever this looks like for you, take time every day to do something for yourself. Whether it's ten minutes in the morning before class to meditate and pray, or fifteen minutes on your lunch break to take a quick jog around campus. Making sure your body, mind, and spirit are all in alignment can do wonders for helping us get over our student anxiety.
Reach out to Resources on Campus - Many campuses have a plethora of services to assist students with a wide range of topics. Everything from mental health counselors to tutors and study groups. whatever you're drowning in, find some ways to grab at a life preserver. There are peer counseling networks, support groups, and tons of other resources available. If you're not sure where to start, check with your academic advisor on campus and they will be able to point you in the right direction to get started.
Higher education is no joke. It takes time, patience, fortitude, and a great deal of ambition, and a bit of stubbornness to get through. And with the rising costs of tuition and inflation around the nation, it's no cheap adventure either. So make sure you're taking care of yourself while you're taking care of your education, and you will come through this just fine.
Have you experienced student anxiety? What resources did you use that helped you out? Leave me a comment below and let's help each other out!